Monday 17th September 2018
Today, a drive through more incredible landscapes from Colorado to Utah and Monument Valley, that landscape known to many from the ‘movies.’
Sunday 16th September 2018
Great excitement today as we arrived at the station in Durango ready for a two and a half hour trip on the historic steam train through to Silverton and back again. Join us on this delightful trip, enjoy the steam engine and the spectacular leaf colours.
We had lunch in Silverton, took the train back to Durango where we had an excellent dinner at Ken and Sue’s and ended the evening with live music in the Diamond Belle Saloon.
Saturday 15th September 2018
Having looped all around, we drove back to Durango today and met our dear friends from Flagstaff with whom we are to share a few days of our trip. They have a 4×4 in which they have offered to drive us into the back country on the road known as the Alpine Loop to visit a Ghost Town, left abandoned by the gold and silver miners in the early 1900s and which by 1920 was a Ghost Town. First a gallery to show some of the sights on today’s drive of 186 miles.
From Durango off we went to find Animas Forks, a little town which I found very moving indeed.
Some of my readers may remember the research I did in 2016 into a Cornish tin miner who emigrated to Colorado, taking his sought after hard rock mining skills. This was the kind of place he may have come to. For those new to my work – his fiancée, Mary, followed him, travelling alone across the seas from Cornwall then across the USA to be with her John. They married and had a child, Foster, whose war grave is in St Euny Graveyard, just down the road from us. John died when Foster was very young and Mary returned to Redruth, with her little boy, to be with her family – another challenging and amazing journey for a young woman in the late 1800s. Foster died in 1916, while in training to join WW1 and his mother died just 6 months later. They are buried in the same grave in St Euny.
I walked around this remote town in the mountains imagining Mary, fresh from Cornwall, in this bleak environment.
The drive was another challenging one but this time we weren’t driving! The Quaking Aspens were becoming more beautiful by the day, the road rougher and the destination more remote. What must Mary, coming to meet her much loved man, have been thinking as she made this journey at only 21 years old?
If you’d like to know more about Animas Forks, here is a link to Wikipedia
Friday 14th September 2018
Today’s drive took us to Alamosa through more mountain roads and through a delightful small town called Saguache (pronounced Suh-watch) where we stopped for lunch. Come with me along the drive and for a walk around the little town in the following gallery.
After arriving in Alamosa, we drove on to see The Great Sand Dunes which were fascinating. They are the highest sand dunes in North America and don’t move like ours do, they shift just a few feet one way and then a few feet back depending on the winds. One of the rangers explained to me that the prevailing South Westerly winds blow the sand mass North Easterly and then powerful North Easterlies, sometimes 40+miles per hour, blow the sand back toward the South West. This back and forth action piles the sand vertically. We saw a photo from a hundred years ago that showed the Dunes then to be where they are now!
You can see them from miles away as you approach and they look vast. As you get closer, they just get bigger and vaster! Not until you’re nearly at their border does their true scale become apparent: dunes up to 750 feet tall, extending for mile after mile—an ocean of sand hills of breathtaking magnitude. That’s just how the explorer Zebulon Pike described them in 1807: “Their appearance was exactly that of a sea in a storm (except as to color), not the least sign of vegetation existing thereon.”
From Montrose, we drove to The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, another National Park.
From the NPS website :-
“Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.”
It’s a remarkable place, deep, steep and narrow gorges carved out by the river over millennia.
Wednesday12th September 2018
Today we drove to Montrose for a two night stay so that we can explore The Great Sand Dunes and then The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, more about them tomorrow. It was a short drive to Montrose so we had some time to explore the delightful little town of Ouray before we left.
After an uneventful drive to Montrose, we spent a cool couple of hours in the eclectic little Historical Museum in Montrose, an absolute delight.
For those of you who have followed for a while, you may remember all the work I did for Until the Day Break in 2016, when I researched Mary Angove Gill who travelled to America on her own to join her fiancé who had left Cornwall to work in Colorado silver mines. They were married in Arapahoe and their son Foster was born in 1897. It was so touching to be in mining country where Mary and her family lived, to see old photos and artefacts that brought her life even closer. If you put Until the Day Break into the search on this page, you will get all the links to our fabulous production or you could click this link to get just one.
Sunday 11th September 2018
Oh my, what a ride that was from Mesa Verde to Durango and on to Ouray over the Red Mountain Pass! Switch backs, mountain edges, trucks on narrow ledges, fabulous views for the non-driver and edge of the seat stuff for us both! We were both surprised and delighted to see the start of the glorious Fall colours, something we hadn’t anticipated.
We found our ride through the Red Mountain area particularly interesting as there was evidence of the mining that happened here in the late 1800s. Many Cornish miners, Cousin Jacks, left Cornwall to bring their hard rock mining skills to Colorado.
You might, or might not, like to look at this information about the Million Dollar Highway.
I’m glad I didn’t quite know what we were about to drive!
Monday 10th September 2018
A four hour tour in the company of an erudite archaeologist/anthropologist made for a fascinating morning touring the Mesa Verde sites, looking at homes that had been lived in over the last 700 years. The community of Cliff Palace must have been quite something. Do click on the rather small photo to see the detail of Cliff Palace and the tiny people, braver than I, who climbed down to the palace and climbed up again via three 10′ ladders up the cliffside!
A delicious cocktail completed a brilliant day!
Sunday 9th September 2018
Mesa Verde was a looming green mountain and a cracking drive of hairpin bends up to the top where we were to stay for three nights. From the National Parks website: “Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from 600 to 1300 CE. Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.”
I have planted up prepared Hyacinths in my Mum’s lovely glass jars, three white and three blue. Something went wrong last year so I am hoping all will be well this year. They are in a dark cupboard now for about six weeks until there is good root growth and then I will bring them out in the hope that they will be in flower between Christmas and New Year.
I am spending many hours researching some of the ‘residents’ buried in our local churchyard, St Uny. We are working towards a production in May next year and I am finding myself consumed by the story of one young man and his mother. His is a War Grave – born in Colorado, he died in 1916 at the tender age of 19 and his mother died just six months later. There is such a story to tell. I went back to my collections of poetry from the First World War this afternoon and came across this and leave it with you here…….
The End of a War
In former days we used to look at life, and sometimes from a distance, at death, and still further removed from us, at eternity. Today it is from afar that we look at life, death is near us, and perhaps nearer still is eternity.
written by Jean Bouvier, a French Subaltern, February 1916